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Old 02-12-2013, 06:02 AM   #1
Chocolatey_Stoutz
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Default $400 invested and three problem riddled batches to show for it

Hello my brewing brethren. I just finished my third boil, and encountered new problems yet again.

Just the facts ma'am: Brewed a switchblade jack pumpkin ale (dark red in color) extract kit offered by Jasper's Home brewing at boomchugaloog.com. I have only used their kits, but even lacking any frame of reference, I am sure they have the best quality kits out there.

Problem #1: I inadvertently boiled for an extra 1/2 hour or so. I typically keep my wort on the heat for a couple of hours sum total because grains are steeped for 30-40 minutes and my crappy electric stove requires about 1/2 hour to get to boiling while strattling a big eye and a little eye. I've already invested about $400 in this hobby, just for the ability to brew extract kits. If I can stop making mistakes and make some good beer, I'll likely continue with the hobby. I'll then upgrade to an all grain kit and buy a turkey fryer.

Problem #2: This didn't happen with my previous two stout kits, but I encountered this green tinted, brownish sludge at the bottom of my pot that tasted and smelled so intensely bitter, it could only be the melted down hop pellets. Why didn't these pellets blend into solution with the rest of the wort?

Problem #3: The wort smells and taste bitter. This was certainly not the case with my two stouts.


Problem #4: I don't have a wort chiller and my ginormous brew pot will not fit into the kitchen sink for an ice bath. So, I am forced to wait 1/2 a day to picth yeast. Could this create any problems?

A question: My cheapo brew pot is scorched and has deposits permanently embedded in the bottom of the pot. I can't get it clean. Also, the brew pot was tarnished when I tried to clean with sanitizer. Can this impart unwanted flavors?

I have asked a lot of questions on here and I really appreciate all of the helpful advice provided by the members of our brewing community. I am so thankful for the knowledge base this site affords.

Right now I am just discouraged because I have literally invested several hundred dollars over the last 4-6 weeks, and two of my three batches don't seem to be doing too well. When executed properly, does homebrewed beer typically taste better than that purchased on the market?






Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Old 02-12-2013, 07:08 AM   #2
Jwood
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Problem 1: Not a deal breaker, will be a bit more bitter than expected.

Problem 2: Pellets don't blend into the wort, the sludge at the bottom is a mix of coagulated proteins and hop material. Yes, if you tasted it I could imagine it being very very bitter. This is completely normal by the way.

Problem 3: Again more bitterness due to the extended boil, but I find the wort sample is always pretty bitter and on the opposite spectrum of what the final beer will turn out like

Problem 4: Getting the wort cooled fast is a big deal for me, and notice i said for me, personal opinion only. It helps for clearer beer in the end (although some people will probably chime in and say they get perfectly clear beer without chilling fast) and is one more step in the right direction against infections. However, many people let it chill over a time period (usually overnight). Look up "No Chill Brewing" if buying an immersion chiller is out of the question for you.

And for your last question, when done right, your homebrew can and will blow a good amount of store bought examples out of the water. Mainly because you brew beers specifically to your taste. There is only so much of the process that you have to get right. And after that, its all dialing in your recipe. Your "process" isn't a never ending quest. Eventually you conquer everything, brew day, yeast control, fermentation, water profile, etc. There is a limited amount of what you must control and once you get it right (not going to mislead you and say it can't take a while) you will be brewing great beers. Then you dial the recipe in to brew YOUR perfect beer.

Keep at it. Every single person on this site has brewed their fair share of bad batches. It takes a certain type of person to invest a whole day into something, wait a month, find out the time didn't pay off as expected, and then attempt to carry on even stronger than before. You've tried multiple batches, invested more money into it, and are looking to improve even further, so you obviously have some of that in you. The answer to every brewing question you can think of is on this site, and every person here wants you and everybody else here to make great beer.

Keep brewing, don't get discouraged, ask as many questions as you can. Before you know it, the majority of what you drink (beer wise) will be yours!




And on a final note, this isn't a hobby that saves you money, so get used to the $400 disappearing now and then

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Old 02-12-2013, 07:28 AM   #3
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I'm having trouble understanding how you've invested $400 and dont own a large kettle, burner, wort chiller and an all-grain setup... But I'll take a stab at your issues:

Problem 1: Boiling longer will do 2 things: concentrate your wort and extract more bitterness from your hops. You are perfectly fine fermenting as is, or add some distilled water to your wort to bring the gravity back down to where it should be.

Problem 2: The sludge you found is hop sludge, or trub, that has scorched a little, you will have this everytime you brew (unless you use a nylon hop bag). It's perfectly fine, just throw it away and if you have pets, don't let them eat it!!! Hops kills dogs.

Problem 3: The extra bitter taste is most likely coming from the longer boil and more hops added in this kit compaired to your stouts. It will eventually mellow out. Relax.

Problem 4: This isn't a problem as long as you keep your pot in a clean place with a lid on it to keep anything from getting in it. Buy a chiller or go to your hardware store and get some copper to make your own.

As long as you give your brew pot a good scrub you will not have any off flavors from the scorching on the bottom, every homebrewer using aluminum (or pretty much anything other than stainless steel) has some level of browning in the pot.

As for your last question, its kind of loaded. It all depends on the beer you want to make.. I'd say you're a little green to compair to store bought.. I personally recommend you read over the beginner's section, ask many questions (Google is your best friend!!), and follow the home brewer's motto: Relax and have a homebrew. Great homebrew will come in time.

Welcome to the hobby, we're glad to have one more in the ranks.

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Old 02-12-2013, 08:07 AM   #4
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Default This is how it adds up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TehB3x0R View Post
I'm having trouble understanding how you've invested $400 and dont own a large kettle, burner, wort chiller and an all-grain setup... But I'll take a stab at your issues:

Problem 1: Boiling longer will do 2 things: concentrate your wort and extract more bitterness from your hops. You are perfectly fine fermenting as is, or add some distilled water to your wort to bring the gravity back down to where it should be.

Problem 2: The sludge you found is hop sludge, or trub, that has scorched a little, you will have this everytime you brew (unless you use a nylon hop bag). It's perfectly fine, just throw it away and if you have pets, don't let them eat it!!! Hops kills dogs.

Problem 3: The extra bitter taste is most likely coming from the longer boil and more hops added in this kit compaired to your stouts. It will eventually mellow out. Relax.

Problem 4: This isn't a problem as long as you keep your pot in a clean place with a lid on it to keep anything from getting in it. Buy a chiller or go to your hardware store and get some copper to make your own.

As long as you give your brew pot a good scrub you will not have any off flavors from the scorching on the bottom, every homebrewer using aluminum (or pretty much anything other than stainless steel) has some level of browning in the pot.

As for your last question, its kind of loaded. It all depends on the beer you want to make.. I'd say you're a little green to compair to store bought.. I personally recommend you read over the beginner's section, ask many questions (Google is your best friend!!), and follow the home brewer's motto: Relax and have a homebrew. Great homebrew will come in time.

Welcome to the hobby, we're glad to have one more in the ranks.
Thanks for the help.

$73 for entry level kit

$84 for two extract kits (I have brewed 3)

$52 for 3 cases of bottles and 2 packs of caps and 1 oz of vanilla extract

$8 cocoa nibs, $8 for cocoa powder, $10 for 1 pound +/- bakers chocolate

$13 or so for Oregon Cherry Puree

$35 +/- brew pot

$5 for funnel, $15 for strainers

$75 for better bottle carboy, 3 packs caps, one pound lactose, 4 x brewvent alcohol boost, 3 muslin bags, black cherry extract, bluebeery extract, airlock and stopper, 1 0z vanilla powder, additional sanitizer

$32 order for a second fermentation bucket, a thermometer and shipping

$20 for beer thief and testing cylinder

$15 how to brew book

$7+ for two brewing spoons


I'm sure I'm leaving some things out, but that's already $419


My second brew is going to be a sweet cherry chocolate milk stout with abv of 9.1 thanks to brewvent boost from AHS. I added bakers chocolate, cocoa powder and lactose to boil, and will rack onto cocoa nibs and cherry puree in the secondary. Then I will rack onto black cherry extract in the bottling bucket.
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:12 AM   #5
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Default Thanks so much for the help and encouragement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TehB3x0R View Post
I'm having trouble understanding how you've invested $400 and dont own a large kettle, burner, wort chiller and an all-grain setup... But I'll take a stab at your issues:

Problem 1: Boiling longer will do 2 things: concentrate your wort and extract more bitterness from your hops. You are perfectly fine fermenting as is, or add some distilled water to your wort to bring the gravity back down to where it should be.

Problem 2: The sludge you found is hop sludge, or trub, that has scorched a little, you will have this everytime you brew (unless you use a nylon hop bag). It's perfectly fine, just throw it away and if you have pets, don't let them eat it!!! Hops kills dogs.

Problem 3: The extra bitter taste is most likely coming from the longer boil and more hops added in this kit compaired to your stouts. It will eventually mellow out. Relax.

Problem 4: This isn't a problem as long as you keep your pot in a clean place with a lid on it to keep anything from getting in it. Buy a chiller or go to your hardware store and get some copper to make your own.

As long as you give your brew pot a good scrub you will not have any off flavors from the scorching on the bottom, every homebrewer using aluminum (or pretty much anything other than stainless steel) has some level of browning in the pot.

As for your last question, its kind of loaded. It all depends on the beer you want to make.. I'd say you're a little green to compair to store bought.. I personally recommend you read over the beginner's section, ask many questions (Google is your best friend!!), and follow the home brewer's motto: Relax and have a homebrew. Great homebrew will come in time.

Welcome to the hobby, we're glad to have one more in the ranks.
Thanks so much for the help and encouragement.
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:35 AM   #6
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As for problem 4 try and find a large plastic box or cooler that can fit your kettle in it. Add some water and a ton of ice then go ahead and stir the wort gently with the sanitized spoon. That should help it cool down a little faster.

Keep brewing and youll get some really good beer in no time at all

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Old 02-12-2013, 01:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chocolatey_Stoutz

Thanks for the help.

$73 for entry level kit

$84 for two extract kits (I have brewed 3)

$52 for 3 cases of bottles and 2 packs of caps and 1 oz of vanilla extract

$8 cocoa nibs, $8 for cocoa powder, $10 for 1 pound +/- bakers chocolate

$13 or so for Oregon Cherry Puree

$35 +/- brew pot

$5 for funnel, $15 for strainers

$75 for better bottle carboy, 3 packs caps, one pound lactose, 4 x brewvent alcohol boost, 3 muslin bags, black cherry extract, bluebeery extract, airlock and stopper, 1 0z vanilla powder, additional sanitizer

$32 order for a second fermentation bucket, a thermometer and shipping

$20 for beer thief and testing cylinder

$15 how to brew book

$7+ for two brewing spoons

I'm sure I'm leaving some things out, but that's already $419

My second brew is going to be a sweet cherry chocolate milk stout with abv of 9.1 thanks to brewvent boost from AHS. I added bakers chocolate, cocoa powder and lactose to boil, and will rack onto cocoa nibs and cherry puree in the secondary. Then I will rack onto black cherry extract in the bottling bucket.
Awesome accounting! I believe most people, me included way underestimate what they spend, only remembering the big ticket items.

Anyway I've not brewed with a lot of the stuff you are using before but am getting an idea of what may be scorching your pot. Fruit extracts, chocolate.... Not sure you can blame the pot for scorching. I scorched my SS pot first run. Took an hour to get it clean using various techniques from here. In the end was SOS pad and elbow grease that worked.

After that I learned to always turn off the heat a minute or so before adding any extract or sugar. Then stir well, really well, to make sure it is dissolved before turning the heat back on. That scorched stuff on the bottom can get into your beer and change the color and taste.

Keep at it, 3 batches down you are well on your way. I think it was my 3rd or 4th batch that seemed to be on par with commercial products. Not great but very drinkable beer.
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Old 02-12-2013, 01:39 PM   #8
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Maybe try splitting the wort and doing 2 boils, will be easier for your stove to handle and will cool faster. If you have a bath tub, try an ice bath in that if the pot fits.
After my first batch wasn't what I had hoped it would be, I focused the next two on process. I didn't care what it tasted like, just treated it as practice. Got my times down perfect, siphoned carefully, thought 3 steps ahead through the whole process. They came out much better and I got far more comfortable with brew day.
Keep at it. You will eventually make the beer you want. I got discouraged because I treated it like a science, figured hey, i'm a smart guy, I can read everything I can get my hands on and do it perfect the first time. Then I realized it's just as much an art and takes considerable experience. You have a lot of special ingredients listed, maybe try just a simple pale ale kit and don't doctor it up. KISS right.
Good luck man,

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Old 02-12-2013, 01:39 PM   #9
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OP, why don't you make something simple to get the hang of this homebrewing thing? Those beers sound waaaayyy too complicated...so much to do, so much you can miss/screw up.

Blonde Ale, Simple Porter, Pale Ale, Simple Stout, Brown Ale with S-05 or 001 are fairly forgiving at times.

British equivalents with S-04 and such would be simple choices as well. Just make it simple, extract/hops/yeast. Darker beer hides flaws better, other times I would say pales would show you flaws (as a good thing to notice), but in you case, I think you want some satisfactory results soon.

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Old 02-12-2013, 02:07 PM   #10
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First off, you never need to use sanitizer on your kettle. If there's something out there that can survive an hour boil and subsequent yeast fermentation, then I think we're all screwed. My SS kettle definitely has some caramelization that I don't feel the need to scrub clean (think brillo pad or belt sander necessary to get it off).

Second off, to reassert what others have said, no need to try and reinvent the wheel on your first batches. Just brew a simple American stout for your next batch. 6.6lbs pale LME, and 0.5lb roasted barley, 0.5lb chocolate malt, and 0.5lb crystal 60L steeped for 30 minutes at 160*F, and 1 oz of Willamette or Cascade at 60 minutes. Ferment with S-05. Will it be mind blowing and usher in a new era of homebrewing? No. But I'd be very surprised if it didn't taste good.

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